ChickenBones: A Journal

for  Literary & Artistic African-American  Themes


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Anyone who reads the Bible does so from a particular social location. We are all

born into an ongoing society that shapes us. When we turn our attention to the biblical

text as the source for understanding whom Christ was, we participate in a dialogue


 Books on Cuba

The Autobiography of a Slave  /  Bridges to Cuba/Puentes a CubaSanteria from Africa to the New World: The Dead Sell Memories

Fidel Castro and the Quest for a Revolutionary Culture in Cuba  /   Reyita: The Life of a Black Cuban Woman in the Twentieth Century  


Singular Like a Bird: The Art of Nancy Morejon   / Caliban and Other Essays   /   The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball


 Santeria Aesthetics in Contemporary Latin America Art   / Culture and Customs of Cuba  /  Man-making Words; Selected Poems of Nicholas Guillen


 Afro-Cuban Voices: On Race and Identity on Contemporary Cuba   / Afro-Cuba: An Anthology of Cuban Writing on Race, Politics, and Culture 


 Nicolas Guillen: Popular Poet of the Caribbean   /    Selected Poetry by Nancy Morejon  /  Cuba: After the Revolution 

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The Quest for the Cuban Christ

A Historical Search

By Miguel A. De La Torre

The Quest for the Cuban Christ  /  Santeria: The Beliefs and Rituals / Ajiaco Christianity



A sweeping and stunning interpretation of Cuban religion and culture, from the religious fervor that surrounded the recent Elian Gonzalez saga in Miami to a religious view from the underside of Cuban history.Luis Daniel Leon, Arizona State University


A fascinating [and] controversial interpretation of Cuban history and religions that should be read by anyone interested in understanding North American Latino religions and culture.Gaston Espinosa, University of California, Santa Barbara


In The Quest for the Cuban Christ, Miguel A. De La Torre examines symbols enriching the Cuban experience through a highly creative historical and cultural framework. he argues that for all Cubans, Christ must be understood through the historical analysis of the Cuban culture and that God saves Cubans in a quintessentially Cuban way. De La Torre juxtaposes two disciplines long considered mutually exclusive--liberation theology and postmodernity--to test the relationship between the faith of marginalized Cuban groups and the overall Cuban identity. His approach challenges the Latino academic religious community to consider seriously and acknowledge how vastly the Cuban religious experience differs from that of other traditions. he also confronts the proposition that Christ can be understood through a general Latino social location.


De la Torre analyzes key figures, groups, and periods in Cuban history as well as the ways Christ is being depicted in Cuban art today. His focus centers on the art created by marginalized segments of Cuban society, both in Cuba and and the United States, to illuminate points of view from those previously silenced throughout Cuban history. His argument moves beyond a purely spiritual reading to explore how Christ is created by those who were and are oppressed by the Cuban culture, a theme that he uses to debunk the Christ of the powerful and privileged who until recently have been the sole arbiters of the Cuban identity.

The Quest for the Historical Cuban Christ  (an abstract)Miguel De La Torre

Anyone who reads the Bible does so from a particular social location. We are all born into an ongoing society that shapes us. When we turn our attention to the biblical text as the source for understanding whom Christ was, we participate in a dialogue between the written word and the meanings the dominant community taught us to give to these words. Cubans, specially those living in the diaspora, have been taught to read the Bible through the eyes of white, middle-class Anglo males. Yet, can the text speak to us through our own culture? To do so, it must be read with Cuban eyes.

This book argues that Christ can be understood through the historical development of Cuban culture. Clement of Alexandria once said, "God saved the Jews in a Jewish way, the barbarians in a barbarian way." The Brazilian Liberation Theologian Carlos Mesters says, "God saves Brazilians in a Brazilian way, blacks in a black way, Indians in an Indian way, Nicaraguans in a Nicaraguan way, and so on." I would add, God saves Cubans in a Cuban way. 

As I shall argue, God’s movement in Cuban history translates both Christian principles and an understanding of Christ into cultural symbols understood by all Cubans, Resident and Exilic. The Christ of the conquistadores, the apotheosis of Martí as the ideal Cuban Christ, the Black Christ of the African slaves, the understanding of Christ through Marianism and Cuban feminism, and the Biblical Christ of both Catholics and Protestants are all a part of, if not central, to Cuban identity. 

As such, Cubans must come to terms with these socio-historical dimensions formulated within the depths of our culture. By seriously reevaluating these cultural symbols, we can find rich resources for understanding ourselves and provide a Christian response to the present estrangement existing between Resident and Exilic Cubans.

The book will begin with a brief overview of the Euro-centric project concerning the "quest for the historical Jesus." Upon concluding that a Euro-centric Christ is impotent for Cubans, the book will begin a historical analysis of Cuban culture to discover a Christ, who like us, is Cuban. The book will begin with an understanding of the Christ brought to the Island by the conquistadores and its evolution to the Spanish Christ of Unamuno. 

With independence from Spain, the Cuban understanding of Christ further developed through the influence of Cuban slaves, the early twentieth century Cuban feminist movement, and Martí. More recently, Liberation Theology and Revolution Theology contributed to our understanding of Christ.

The final chapter of this work will tie together all of these diverse trends by turning our attention to how Christ is presently being depicted through Cuban art, both on the Island, and in the States. Paintings, being revelatory, provide the observer with insight about, and an entry into reality. Several works by Cuban artists will be reviewed for the purpose of depicting the mysteries of God, the construction of a Cuban Christ, and the search for a common intra-Cuban identity.

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Dr. De la Torre is a Cuban, a professor of religion at Hope college, with specialization in Christian Social Ethics, Theologies of Liberation and Postmodern/Postcolonial Studies. He is the author of a seminal article on the denial of racism in Cuba entitled, "Masking Hispanic Racism: A Cuban Case Study": "I am a recovering racist, a product of two race-constructed societies. Exilic Cubans see themselves as white and the Island's inhabitants as mostly black." 

"A major issue which will arise in a post-Castro Cuba is intra-Cuban race relations, an issue mostly ignored because of the myth proclaiming Cubans as non-racists. I propose to debunk this myth. Any serious discourse on intra-Cuban reconciliation must unmask the hidden tension existing between seemingly white Exilic Cuba and black Resident Cuba." 

For the rest of this fascinating article, see

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Philosophy of Pedagogy

My educational development has been significantly influenced by Paulo Freire's work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which, doubting the existence of an objective, neutral educational system, finds its students lead toward either domestication or liberation. All too often, the educational system serves to normalize existing power structures contributing to maintaining a "culture of silence." Our advance consumer-society rapidly dehumanizes individuals into Objects who concur with the rationality of the present system. The role of the educator, as I see it, is to facilitate the student's consummation of their ontological vocation in becoming a Subject. My task as a professor is to cultivate the student's ability to find their own voice by creating an environment in where individual and collective consciousness-raising can occur.

In order to construct a response to injustice and oppression, I have taught classes combining liberationist perspectives with postmodern analysis. Upon the tension created by these diverse narratives, I have constructed an approach to religious studies from the periphery providing a unique outlook to the normative discourse, a view I believe enhances traditional curricula. Because individuals enter the educational system with a lifetime of experiences and knowledge, courses can be designed to bring their suppositions into conversation with postmodern and liberationist paradigms. Students partake in forming a learning environment by leading segments of the discourse and participating in projects to encourage the interweaving of scholastic rigor with their personal backgrounds.

As both my curriculum vitae and corporate résumé indicate, I posses practical and academic knowledge in public policy and economics, specializing in how the socio-political culture normalizes the oppression of the Other. My controversial approach to marginalized theologies (specifically Latino/a) moves beyond what Edward Said terms "the rhetoric of blame" by concentrating upon intra-ethnic structures of oppressions. A review of the articles I have published, the papers I have presented and the courses I have taught demonstrate and are consistent with my focus in analyzing race, class, and gender oppression.


Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins. Orbis Press, forthcoming in 2004.

Handbook of U.S. Theologies of Liberation. Chalice Press, forthcoming in 2004.

Santería: The Beliefs and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., forthcoming in 2003.

La Lucha for Cuba: Religion and Politics on the Streets of Miami. University of California Press, forthcoming in 2003.

The Quest for the Cultural Cuban Christ: A Historical Search. University Press of Florida, forthcoming, in Fall 2002.

Reading the Bible from the Margins. Orbis Press, forthcoming in May, 2002.

Introduction to Hispanic Theology: Latino/a Perspectives, co-authored with Edwin Aponte, Orbis Press, 2001.

Ajiaco Christianity: Toward an Exilic Cuban Ethic of Reconciliation, Ph.D. diss., Temple University, 1999.

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Santeria: The Beliefs and Rituals 

of a Growing Religion in America

By Miguel A. De La Torre

This book by Miguel De la Torre offers a fascinating guide to the history, beliefs, rituals, and culture of Santeria -- a religious tradition that, despite persecution, suppression, and its own secretive nature, has close to a million adherents in the United States alone. Santeria is a religion with Afro-Cuban roots, rising out of the cultural clash between the Yoruba people of West Africa and the Spanish Catholics who brought them to the Americas as slaves. As a faith of the marginalized and persecuted, it gave oppressed men and women strength and the will to survive. With the exile of thousands of Cubans in the wake of Castro's revolution in 1959, Santeria came to the United States, where it is gradually coming to be recognized as a legitimate faith tradition.

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The Brilliant Disaster

JFK, Castro, and America's Doomed Invasion of Cuba's Bay of Pigs

By Jim Rasenberger

My telling of the Bay of Pigs thing will certainly not be the first. On the contrary, thousands of pages of official reports, journalism, memoir, and scholarship have been devoted to the invasion, including at least two exceptional books: Haynes Johnson’s emotionally charged account published in 1964 and Peter Wyden’s deeply reported account from 1979. This book owes a debt to both of those, and to many others, as well as to thousands of pages of once-classified documents that have become available over the past fifteen years, thanks in part to the efforts of the National Security Archives, an organization affiliated with George Washington University that seeks to declassify and publish government files. These newer sources, including a CIA inspector general’s report, written shortly after the invasion and hidden away in a vault for decades, and a once-secret CIA history compiled in the 1970s, add depth and clarity to our understanding of the event and of the men who planned it and took part in it. . . .

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 12 March 2012




Home  TurnerConeTheologyTable   Inside the Caribbean 

Related files:   The Quest for the Cuban Christ  Table of Contents  Foreword   Santeria The Beliefs and Rituals  Ajiaco Christianity   Fidel My Early Years  Fidel Bio  Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War 

Jimmy Carter on Cuban-American Relations  Cuba Photo-Exhibit    Herbert Rogers on Cuba  Cuban BookList  Nicohola Guillen  Ajiaco Christianity  Santeria The Beliefs and Rituals     The Quest for the Cuban Christ